Posted by: jbaner | August 6, 2016

Do you want to be perfect or happy?

I have often in the past been accused of being a perfectionist. In the past I was proud to be one, until I noticed how my mother who was also a perfectionist, found extreme frustration and unhappiness when she could no longer be perfect once she started down the road of dementia.

I learned a lot from her regarding this subject. I realized that being a perfectionist left very little room for me to make a mistake and still feel good about myself. There was always that drive to do it over and over again until it was “perfect”, so I could feel good about myself and my work.

I have spent a fair amount of time contemplating this subject. My work is far from perfect. If you don’t believe me, then ask the quilt judges who have judged my work and found it FAR from perfect! I also have spent a lot of time looking closely at the quilts in a big quilt show that have won first place, or awards of excellence, or best of show, and have found that they are indeed nearly, if not perfect. I often wonder how these artists feel about themselves and their work.

So I have taken the heat off myself by not having everything I do needing to be perfect. Once I did that, I was much happier. The pressure was off. But what I did discover was that when I did something that was “not good enough”, I chose to rip and re-do. Or when I’m putting my work together, I find that if I pay attention to the details like cutting my fabric straight, or making my seams as near “perfect” by knowing my machines and tools really well, everything fits together better and find myself so much happier because I don’t have to rip and re-do.

To summarize, a perfectionist is one who views everything they do needs to be “perfect” at least in their eyes. When they do not perform up to that standard, they are not happy and do not feel good about themselves. I witnessed this in my mother.

But I label myself as one who pays attention to details which is much different than being a perfectionist. Details make me happy. Being perfect (nearly impossible to do) does not.

Sometimes when I teach a class, I am still accused of being a perfectionist. But my response is always the same: I am not perfect and I don’t require you to be perfect….you can ignore my techniques and do it your way, but paying attention to the details (so it turns out the way I want it to) makes me happy.

So I ask you again….do you want to be perfect or happy?

Happy Quilting!!




  1. Hi Jo. i gave up perfect years ago. now i look at an error (remember i’m mostly a weaver) and if it’s going to be the first thing i see when i look at that item i take it out. there are also mistakes that i incorporate into the overall design. but a lot of the time ‘done is good’.

  2. Yeah! Me too…..I agree!!

  3. Hi, Jo. Your timing could not have been better. I am working on several projects at one time; two with a deadline…and stressing to be “perfect”. A sweet baby entering the world in mid-September will be a recipient of one of the quilts in progress. Yesterday, as I was stressing, I decided that if it isn’t done, it isn’t done. I will send a welcome to the world card stating that it is on its way. That simple affirmation made all of the different. Today I am more relaxed and happier making headway one step at a time.

    • So glad to hear that. It’s just not worth it to stress too much. I’m sure the recipient will be happy any time they get it!

  4. […] of keeping things straight as you go. Because of this, some call me a perfectionist (see a previous blog post on perfection)….but I’d rather consider myself a detail person because getting the details to work […]

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